Sunday night disruption: Cablevision blames power failure

Greenwich Cablevision subscribers who wanted to spend their Sunday nights checking out the latest episode of Breaking Bad, the season finale of True Blood on HBO, a New York Giants preseason game or a hotly contested Yankees/Red Sox showdown were out of luck after a power outage knocked out service.

“Last evening, some customers in Connecticut experienced a loss of service following a commercial power outage in our Norwalk facility,” Sarah Chaikin, a Cablevision spokesman, said in a statement on Monday when contacted by Hersam Acorn Newspapers. “The power matter has been resolved and service has been restored to our customers.”

Requests for more information from Cablevision —including what’s the best way for customers to get answers when there’s an outage — were not answered. Cablevision’s website, made no mention of the outage that night but its Optimum customer service Twitter feed was responding to complaints from customers.

Cablevision customers who called the company were left holding for a long time as some were told by the automated service they were as high as No. 500 in the queue and those were the ones lucky enough to get through. Many callers who attempted to contact the company via the phone got only a busy signal with others reporting online that they were hung up on by an overtaxed automatic response system from Cablevision. Additionally there were also long waits for online tech support.

The outage knocked out cable service to all Greenwich Cablevision customers as well as to other key areas in both Fairfield and New Haven counties. Customers also reported losing Internet and phone service but it appears in Greenwich online service was not disrupted. Customers who use OptimumVoice in town though had no phone service. Cablevision did not respond to questions about why some customers lost some services and others did not.

The outage began around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night, depriving Greenwich Mets fans of seeing a ninth inning loss and was restored at close to 8:30 p.m., only for the cable channels to go dark approximately 45 minutes later, right in the middle of Breaking Bad, causing many angry reactions from customers venting their frustrations online on Twitter.

This also forced baseball fans to miss a controversial part of the Yankees/Red Sox game where Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and manager Joe Girardi was ejected from the game for his response to it. Television and phone service were restored shortly after, but customers were left angry into Monday morning, with many complaining online about the lack of communication from Cablevision about what was happening and why.

The outage also took Cablevision’s News 12 channel off the air.

Complete restoration in the area appeared to occur by 11 p.m., according to Cablevision. The outages, however, did not affect everyone. The area that lost Cablevision services extended from Greenwich to Milford.

An angry customer in Fairfield even took drastic steps to complain, by calling 911.  This led the Fairfield Police to remind residents of that town that losing your cable and Internet is not an actual emergency by posting on Twitter and Facebook Sunday night that this wasn’t an emergency or a matter for law enforcement and urged upset customers to call Cablevision.

Late Monday morning, that tweet was deleted from the Fairfield Police account. Fairfield Police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said Monday that an initial check of records showed only one 911 call regarding the Cablevision outage. However, Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said that calls “inundated” non-emergency lines. This brought national attention, and a fair degree of ridicule, to the area as both the New York Post and New York Daily News wrote stories mocking the Fairfield 911 calls.

And while the Greenwich Police Department didn’t have to take the dramatic step of chastising residents online, there were calls from residents. According to the police department, there were a dozen calls to 911 and more made to the department’s non-emergency numbers to try and determine what was happening, similar to what happens during a power outage in town.

Cablevision services are in southwestern Connecticut, the Bronx, Westchester and parts of New Jersey.


Post editor Ken Borsuk and Hersam Acorn Newspapers’ John Kovach contributed to this story.

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